Power of the pets
Animals forced the government to abandon its sweetest, easiest tax idea ever. They forced Agriculture Minister Grisada Boonrach to say something no Thai military man, no Thai government person, no Thai government minister has ever said in the current millennium: “I want to apologise”. What happened is that animals rebelled and howled when government alleged that their humans were on the verge of abandoning them. Government proposed licensing all dogs and cats except for millions of stray and feral beasts, with a 450-baht registration tax. Mr Grisada will try again later, with a lower fee.
The troubled and often violent three and a half provinces lost a four-star general last week. But they gained a son. Gone is Bangkokian Gen Aksara Kerdphol, who failed for four years to reach a peace pact with the Malaysian group Mara Patani. But to replace him, they are getting just-retired Lt Gen Udomchai Thammasaroraj. He is a native-born southerner. In 2016 he refused a promotion to four stars in order to stay in the South to command the 4th Army Region. The political sands are shifting in the deep South because of the election of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who does not like Mara-related groups. But with Lt Gen Udomchai, people of the South are getting someone with their interests at heart.
Being a high-profile game hunter isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta was “arrested” in February and charged with killing a black panther and eating it — inside a national park. He’s still smiling, walking around and getting government contracts. Last week, a couple of influential officials in Kanchanaburi were caught in Sai Yok National Park with a silence rifle and paws from protected binturong, better known as bearcats or civets. Within a day of the “arrests” of the hunting party, senior police lamented they probably didn’t have enough evidence to get the men into court, let alone prison.